Lesson Planning

Related Kits:
Torah Pointer Kit
Flag/Scroll, Ten Commandments and Book Woodshapes

The Torah Pointer or Yad
The tradition of using a pointer for reading from the Torah scroll, and the other sacred scrolls that are read on various occasions, is centuries old. Because of the sacredness of the Sefer Torah itself, one avoids touching it with the hands. Even in kissing the torah, before and after reading from it, a tallit or a prayer book is used as an intermediary object, to convey the kiss to the Torah.

The pointer is another sign of the holiness of the Torah, as well as a tool for keeping the scroll from becoming soiled with constant use. The design motif of a pointing hand at the end of the pointer is such a constant that the common Hebrew name for the pointer is yad, meaning "hand."

The traditional form is that of a right hand pointing with the index finger. Notwithstanding enlightened modern attitudes regarding right- or left-handedness, in most traditional cultures, including virtually all Middle Eastern cultures, the right hand is associated with good and purity, and is always used for actions conveying respect or importance.

While the most common material for the Yad is silver, historical examples exist made of other materials, including wood, just as our own kits are. In most cases, the artist makes up a number of design elements—spheres, cylinders, knobs, and of course, a delicately carved or cast hand, and joins them together to form the whole, in much the same way as you will do in the course of this project.

Related Activities:

1. Learn or review the blessings for reading from the Torah.

2. Write a story about an old Torah pointer. Share stories in class, or make up and copy a booklet of them to distribute.

3. Visit a museum, synagogue, or Jewish book store that has a collection of antique Torah pointers. Compare styles of different artists or regions of origin.

4. Arrange to see the Torah pointers and other Torah decorations and "clothing" in your synagogue.

Copyright 2005-2012, Marc Glickman, PO Box 1904, Frederick, MD 21702. Phone/Fax: 301-695-4375